It looks as though John Klingberg will try to secure the proverbial bag again next summer.
Arguably the No. 1 defenseman in free agency has settled for a one-year, $7-million contract with the Anaheim Ducks, as first reported by ESPN’s Kevin Weekes, meaning his lucrative long-term contract will have to wait.
Anaheim is a decent spot to reclaim some value. Klingberg, 29, will have to compete for power-play ice with the likes of Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jamie Drysdale on the Ducks’ blue line, but will likely assume top-pairing minutes on the right side, which presents a strong opportunity to solidify his value.
Klingberg recently parted with his long-time agent, Peter Wallen. He had been connected to the Ottawa Senators, Seattle Kraken and Carolina Hurricanes, among other teams, through the free agency process, but watched the market materialize and harden without netting a long-term agreement.
There’s reason to believe that Klingberg’s best offer was left on the table.
Klingberg signed a seven-year deal worth just short of $30 million with the Dallas Stars out of entry level. His relationship with the organization seemed to sour over the final few seasons while he pursued contract certainty. He never found common ground with Stars general manager Jim Nill throughout those talks, an issue that extended into free agency.
It wasn’t a particularly strong season in Dallas for Klingberg, but he remains a productive player and an intriguing bounce-back candidate. He had six goals and 47 points in 74 games in a secondary role behind Miro Heiskanen, Ryan Suter and Esa Lindell. The Stars struggled over the balance of the season in his minutes, but the advanced numbers suggest he was a touch misfortunate. An uptick in shooting luck could do wonders for his earning potential.
Anaheim has not been a strong defensive team for several seasons, but are beginning to replenish the position after dealing Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson. It’s unlikely they will be competitive in 2022-23 as Pat Verbeek continues to turn over the roster.
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